Hostility, Fragility, and Hope

Lessons from Pastoring Through Racial Tensions

by Steven Lee
Pastor, Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

When I was growing up, race was always an issue where I lived, but I don’t remember it being quite as charged as it is today.

Growing up in a predominately white elementary school, I remember being called “Chink” and “Gook.” I remember classmates mimicking my slanted eyes as they spoke gibberish. I remember trying to distance myself from the Southeast Asian students that had come to our community as refugees. I remember doling out racially insensitive slurs sadly typical of the playground and the basketball court.

Now as a pastor, speaking about race, racism, and ethnic harmony seems to be one of the most polarizing topics today, not only in the world, but even within the church. Everyone has a take, everyone takes sides, and it often feels like a lose-lose proposition.

“Christ-loving people advance Christ-exalting priorities.”

Few things today are as divisive, hostile, fragile, challenging, and complex as race relations are in America. Yet on this weekend, remembering the work and vision of Martin Luther King Jr., we remind ourselves from the word of God that we can and ought to remain hopeful.

Where We Need to Be

In his “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, King addressed those who had experienced “great trials and tribulations . . . battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality . . . veterans of creative suffering. . . .” Yet King exhorted his listeners to not lose heart:

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

King held out hope that there would be a day when his dream would become a reality. We are not where we were in 1963, but in 2020 we are not yet where we need to be. Our world is still full of violence, animosity, division, prejudice, racial animus, bitterness, anger, hard-heartedness, and indifference. But instead of wallowing in despair, Christians recognize that we are called to advance not the American dream, and not ultimately King’s dream, but the far better dream, the end-time Revelation reality, that is coming to all who hope in Christ.

Dream Deeply Rooted in God

Every believer and local church is called to make disciples of all nations with the authority of Jesus Christ himself (Matthew 28:18–20). This global mission of making disciples — baptizing and teaching Christ’s commands — will culminate and climax with unparalleled unity in diversity, a heavenly choir comprised of every ethnicity on the face of the earth. The Book of Revelation sums up this glorious, end-time, Christ-exalting biblical dream for us:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9–10)

This is the end. There will be every nation represented. Every tribe. Every people. Every language. No second-class citizens. No class of elite. No arrogance. No animosity. No hostility. Can you imagine?

“Few things today are as divisive, hostile, fragile, challenging, and complex as race relations are in America.”

Every wrong will be made right on that day. All the bitterness, misunderstanding, blind spots, hard-heartedness, antagonism, racial prejudice, systemic injustice, and personal sinfulness will be made right. How? Jesus has paid, with his own blood, for every sin of every sinner who trusts in him. For those who reject the free gift of salvation, their sins will be judged in the flawless courtroom of God. On that day, all division, disunity, and hostility will be done away with by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, poured out on his blood-bought people.

Lessons for the Church Today

If we really believe that will happen, the future should give us great hope for our present. I don’t know if we’ll figure out race relations in America in my lifetime. I suspect we will still be talking about slavery, systemic racism, injustice, police brutality, and racial animosity when my ministry ends. As a Christian and as a pastor, I lament, with great sorrow, how slow and grueling progress has been on these fronts.

But I’m grateful that someday it will all come to an end. There will be a day when justice will “roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). God’s people can be conduits and advocates of this biblical justice here and now, and we eagerly await a day when God will bring it to pass perfectly.

In the meantime, Christians love and advance this glorious, end-time vision of a multiethnic gathering comprised of every tribe, tongue, language, and nation. Christ-loving people advance Christ-exalting priorities — in our personal lives, in our churches, in our families, and in our communities. As someone who pastors a church striving passionately for unity in diversity, here are three practices that have helped conform our hearts and minds to the priorities of our Savior.

1. Love and Pursue Diversity

John Piper writes,

What seems to be missing among many Christians, is a solid biblical conviction that ethnic diversity in the church is a beautiful thing, and part of God’s ultimate design for his people. It is inconceivable to me that a Christian can have a Christ-exalting love for diversity in the church and be hostile toward diversity in the nation. The knee-jerk hostilities I see betray, it seems, a very thin veneer of politically correct tolerance of diversity, instead of a deep, biblically grounded, cross-centered exuberance over God’s plan to reconcile all nations in Christ.

We need a renewed passion for Jesus’s blood-bought multiethnic bride revealed in Revelation 5:9–10.

2. Love and Pursue Justice

Justice is doing what is right and good according to what God revealed in Scripture. God loves justice. Consider Isaiah 30:18: “the Lord is a God of justice.” And Psalm 37:28: “the Lord loves justice.” God rules and reigns in perfect justice.

“Mutual love makes no room for division, divisiveness, and hostility in the one body of Christ.”

But God also calls his people to pursue justice in our world. Consider Psalm 106:3: “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” Or Proverbs 21:3: “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” To love and pursue justice is not to tolerate injustice. Instead, we heed Isaiah’s vision from God: “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17).

God’s people seek to advance true biblical justice today, while putting our hope not here on earth but on the perfectly just One who will come.

3. Love and Pursue the Outsider

We are not engaged in a war against our neighbors south of the border. We are not living in fear of refugees fleeing religious persecution, genocide, or political unrest. God commands his people in the Old Testament to love sojourners (Deuteronomy 10:19), to not oppress them (Zechariah 7:10), and to remember that he watches over them (Psalm 146:9). How much more should followers of Christ who have been redeemed by unmerited grace — who are sojourners and exiles here on earth (1 Peter 2:11) — love and pursue those who are oppressed and vulnerable?

We can seek to understand the refugee crisis and the immigration debate, and help to educate others around us in love, patience, and gentleness. [As God believed in the sovereignty of nations we believe in the rule of law and legal immigration.]

Why We Still Have Hope

Jesus has broken down the “dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14). Our God-given, otherworldly love for one another tells the world we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). Christians will disagree on political policy, strategies for addressing problems, the extent of how far reaching this issue is, how we should go about addressing it in church and parachurch ministries, and which pathways forward are the most wise, fruitful, and timely. Mutual love, however, makes no room for division, divisiveness, and hostility in the one body of Christ. We can and should preserve the glorious unity we have in Jesus Christ.

“We are not where we were in 1963, but in 2020 we are not yet where we need to be.”

We have hope because we have Christ. And because we have hope, we can take meaningful steps to have our lives and actions reflect the values of Christ’s kingdom. Christ calls us to faith-filled action rooted in Christ’s work and his kingdom, not to earthly agendas on the left or right. We also ought to extend grace to others who have differing strategies, tactics, and levels of understanding as we recognize what we’re all striving to achieve.

In the last day — gathered around his throne, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, finally seeing face-to-face — we will see how we all fell short. No one engaged in these conversations perfectly. Everyone made mistakes along the way in our discovery and understanding of racism. No one will have the moral high ground in that day. We will all stand on level ground, grateful that God saves sinners, and marvel that we had an opportunity to play a part in advancing his end-time mission through our feeble and faithful prayers, labors, and participation.

Oh, may our Lord Jesus come quickly. And if he tarries, let us lock arms as brothers and sisters in Christ, to carry out his work, in his strength, for his glory, until he returns.

Serving People, Not Labels

On loving the way Jesus loved

Servanthood is a pure expression of love. 1.

 

BY CHARITY SINGLETON CRAIG

One Sunday morning a month, our family volunteers with an inner city ministry where we serve food, hand out clothes, and minister to people in need. Because we serve most of the day Sunday, we usually take advantage of our church’s Saturday night worship service, though occasionally we have to miss church altogether. One of our teenage sons, not opposed to missing a worship service now and then, has taken to saying, “I mean, it’s better to help the poor than go to church, isn’t it?”  I usually just laugh nervously because I sometimes have the same question.

 

Once when he gave this reasoning, I responded with Jesus’ words, “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me” (John 12:8), reminding our son that worship is also important. Later, when I took the time to look up the passage where Jesus said that, I realized He actually was rebuking Judas’ stinginess more than making a statement about priorities. Judas didn’t care about the poor any more than he thought Mary pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet was a worthwhile sacrifice. He just wanted to keep the money for himself. But Jesus wasn’t going to allow Judas to hide his sin behind generic labels and false compassion. So He called him on it, as if He was saying, “Don’t worry, unlike this woman, you’ll always have ‘the poor,’ or some other equally lame excuse to avoid giving.”

Don’t we sometimes do that, too? We hide behind labels. We lump others together based on their needs, calling them “the poor” or “the homeless” or “the needy,” without realizing that, in the process, we’ve turned compassion into a commodity. Every act of service becomes a transaction of giving and receiving. With our limited resources, we decide what to give to the impersonal compassion machine—and what to keep for ourselves.

But when “the poor” and “the needy” are people with names and faces and stories, we no longer have labels to hide behind. When it’s Tina who’s going hungry, when it’s Andi who needs a place to stay or Jerry who can’t pay his electric bill, we’re no longer giving just money or resources. We’re also giving of ourselves. That’s what it means to show compassion to people, not just labels or causes: We find ourselves in relationships rather than transactions. It’s how Mary showed compassion to Jesus in that scene from John 12.

In Matthew 9, when the Pharisees learn that Jesus is having dinner at Matthew’s house, they ask the disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” (Matt. 9:11). The contrast is stark. While the Pharisees stand off to the side, labeling people according to their deepest needs, Jesus is actually “reclining at the table” and getting to know them. This is what God means when He desires “compassion, and not sacrifice” (Matt. 9:13). Later, as Jesus travels, preaching and healing disease and sickness, Matthew says that Jesus sees the people and is overwhelmed with compassion. As simple as it seems, this is how we best serve others, how we love as Jesus loved. We resist lumping people together or treating them as causes. And instead, we take the time to see them individually.

That’s what our family loves about this ministry we’re involved with. They take whatever they are given—food, clothing, books, bicycles, housewares—and then try to match it with the real needs of individuals. They welcome people with whatever burdens they carry—addiction, unemployment, sickness, grief, a criminal record—then match them up with resources already available in the community. They don’t serve with a one-size-fits-all mentality. But in order to truly meet the needs of those who come, we have to talk, engage, and listen to know how to help. And to be honest, I’m terrified most of the time we’re there. What if I say something offensive? What if they tell me I’m not welcome in their neighborhood? What if I’m actually putting my family in danger by going? What if the ministry I’m offering is more about making myself feel good than actually meeting real needs? As we go month after month, slowly God is helping me face these fears.

For instance, one Sunday this past winter when we were on the serving site, I saw a man who’d been there before, but not recently. I knew from an earlier conversation that he enjoyed drawing and painting. So to start a conversation, I asked if he’d been making any art lately.

“No,” he said. “It’s too cold where I’ve been staying to do that.”

“I’m sorry,” I replied. “I know you love it. I’m sorry it’s too cold.”

As I walked away, an unsettling awareness washed over me. He didn’t have heat where he was staying. I take for granted that my home has a furnace. But for him, it was a luxury he couldn’t afford. I felt embarrassed for both of us.

Earlier the same day, I’d thought about throwing away cupcakes that had tipped over in the van on the way there. The icing was smudged or stuck to the bottom of the container, and they looked pretty rough. But we went ahead and stuck each one on a small paper saucer anyway, and by the end of the afternoon, every one had been taken. I felt ashamed for all the times I’d thrown away perfectly good food just because it didn’t look right.

I don’t understand the needs of the people I meet. I can’t relate to living in survival mode all the time. I’ve never been unemployed. I’ve never gone without a car. I have no idea where I’d sleep or shower if I didn’t have a home. And even if those were taken away, I can’t imagine not having family or friends who’d take me in. The extreme needs of others create a sense of instability I can’t relate to and probably wouldn’t survive if I suddenly found myself in their shoes.

And that’s what I struggle with the most: I could easily be in their shoes and somehow I’m not. While some people we serve are suffering the consequences of their own bad choices, most aren’t. They’re doing the best they can—just like I am—but still ended up poor, hungry, and struggling to get by. Why am I on this side of the serving line? Why can I afford to feed and clothe my kids and give them a good home and education, and these parents can’t? Why do I get to jump in the car and head back to my middle class life while these people are stuck on skid row?

Ironically, on the other side of that fear is the faith that calls me to this compassionate work, that keeps me coming back to serve people month after month rather than continuing to hide behind generic labels. I trust that just as God sees the people we serve individually, He sees me. And just as He shows compassion to them by sending us to be His hands and feet, He has and always will care for my needs—whatever side of the table I’m on.

It’s true, we will always have the poor among us, but thankfully, as David says, “The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him” (Psalm 22:26 NIV).

https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/faith-works/serving-people-not-labels

 

Texas commission sued for bashing justice of the peace for her Christian faith

Officials charged with violating Religious Freedom Restoration Act

A Texas justice of the peace is suing the state for punishing her for devising a solution to accommodate her Christian belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Judge Dianne Hensley initially refused to officiate any weddings after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that same-sex couples have a right marry. But in August 2016, she resumed officiating weddings and “politely referred” same-sex couples to willing local judges.

There have been no complaints about her system, but the State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated and issued a “public warning” against the judge.

The case was filed by First Liberty Institute on behalf of Hensley against state officials. The legal team argued that the law in Texas allows judges to officiate weddings but it does not require them to do so.

When the Supreme Court established a legal right to same-sex marriage in 2015, most of the judges in Waco and McLennan County stopped performing ceremonies.

That forced residents to “travel further and incur greater expenses,” First Liberty said.

“To ensure those seeking to be married in McLennan County could be, including same-sex couples, Judge Hensley made arrangements with a local private vendor and her staff to facilitate weddings she, for religious reasons or just because of schedule, could not officiate,” the legal team said.

The complaint charges that the commission “violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act by investigating and punishing Judge Hensley for recusing herself from officiating at same-sex weddings, in accordance with the commands of her Christian faith,:.

“By investigating and punishing her for acting in accordance with the commands of her Christian faith, the state of Texas has substantially burdened the free exercise of her religion, with no compelling justification,” the complaint states.

“Because of Judge Hensley, anyone who wants to get married in McLennan County can get married,” said Jeremy Dys, special counsel for Litigation and Communications at First Liberty Institute. “For simply trying to reconcile her religious beliefs while meeting the needs of her community – ensuring anyone can get married who wants to be married – the Commission on Judicial Conduct punished her.”

The filing in McLennan County District Court states: “At her own expense, Judge Hensley invested extensive time and resources to compile a referral list of alternative, local, and low-cost wedding officiants in Waco that she provides to people for whom she is unable to officiate due to time constraints or her religious convictions.”

The options include a walk-in wedding chapel three blocks away.

The judge’s “referral solution” means that “many more couples – including same-sex couples – are able to marry than by the predominant practice of many public officials, who have simply ceased officiating weddings altogether.”

The complaint charges: “The commission’s public punishment of Judge Hensley – as well as its threat to impose further discipline if Judge Hensley persists in recusing herself form officiating at same-sex weddings – violates Judge Hensley’s rights under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

The lawsuit seeks to recover damages, costs and attorneys’ fees. Hensley also wants “a declaratory judgment that her referral system complies with Texas law, and that the law of Texas prevents the commission from imposing any further discipline on justices of the peace who recuse themselves from officiating at same-sex marriage ceremonies.”

The commission’s preliminary charges claimed Hensley was violating the code of conduct for judges, which requires judges not to “manifest bias” based on religion, race, sex, sexual orientation and other factors.

But the commission’s complaint itself was based on Hensley’s religion.

Original here

Seek Him To Find Him!

Date: January 2, 2020 hepsibahgarden

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19‬

For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: Amos‬ ‭5:4‬

Both these verses are being addressed to the Israelites or the house of Israel by the Lord God Himself. The first verse was mentioned to them during the beginning of their journey and the other verse in the middle of their journey to the Promised Land of Canaan. There is something common in both these verses:

IN ORDER TO LIVE THEY HAD TO CHOOSE LIFE!

This day the Lord is giving this verse to you and me as well!! Years come and go; and our lives go on until the Maker commands its return. 2019 — He led us through wonderfully; provided all our needs more than our asking and thinking, fought every battle for us, and led us in every step of the way!! Even for 2020, we have to seek God for guidance.

How should we seek Him?

So I directed my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and extends lovingkindness toward those who love Him and keep His commandments, Daniel‬ ‭9:3-4‬

Why should we seek Him?

[If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which] I command you today, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land into which you go to possess. Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:16‬

This New Year, let us decide to seek God because all those who seek Him, will find Him. Preserve the life of testimony, authority that God has given you and His righteousness in your life. Jesus is coming to take away the chaste virgin waiting for Him!

May God help us! ❤️

Seek Him To Find Him!

Shine, Shine

Julius Esunge’s mission to save Cameroon

BY JOHN VANDENOEVER

On a twisting narrow road of tropical forest, a concrete structure with porticos rises from the soil. Trim men in street clothes scrape wet cement along an exterior wall, while others in tall rubber boots sift rocks from the dirt floor inside. Overseeing the daily labor is Dr. Julius Esunge, a man in sunglasses and a floppy Panama hat, standing atop the vast unfinished slab of the second floor. The view beyond him is the “Mountain of Greatness”—Mount Cameroon. And emerging below him is Hope Academy, a nursery and primary school meant to change the face of a nation.

Esunge is an ordained preacher and mathematician, returned home to the town of Buea in Cameroon. With his wife and three young children, Esunge is here on an eight-month sabbatical from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Though he lives an ocean away, Esunge’s heart is never far from his homeland. As a youth, he preached in the nation’s churches, and then as a graduate student in the U.S., he prayed and led mission trips. Now as a professor, he heads a team that carries the light of Christ from college campuses to the remotest parts of Cameroon.

 

While in Cameroon, Esunge maintains a dizzying schedule of academic and spiritual pursuits. Wherever he goes, he brings the resources of the In Touch Messenger Lab: the original Messenger, a solar-powered palm-sized audio player; the USB-style Key; and the Micro, a small SD card that slips into a cellphone. He distributes these tools easily, to people hungry for the true gospel, in a place where false hopes of prosperity have begun to land on deaf ears.

Overlooking new construction from his elevated vantage point, Esunge sees the shape of things to come. Out of poverty and broken dreams, generations of children will come to this school and discover how Jesus Christ can change their lives and their world. He wants them to be lifelong champions for the Lord, so that through them, the gospel will spread to their parents and countless others near and far.

The Making of an Evangelist

Esunge was just 19, three years into his walk with the Lord, when he stood in the pulpit of his church, guest preaching the Sunday morning sermon. So many church meetings were scheduled for that afternoon that he blurted out, “I’m not going to do an altar call today. Just let the Lord work in your heart.” In the congregation that day was Dr. Solomon Nfor Gwei, a distinguished Christian statesman and cabinet level member of Cameroon’s government. Gwei invited Esunge to lunch and asked him, “What would you think of a fisherman who casts a net, but finds an excuse not to pull it to shore?” With that winsome rebuke, Gwei became a spiritual father to Esunge, teaching him that there were no limits to what God could do.

Dr. Charles Stanley became the spiritual mentor Esunge needed to keep him focused as he completed his master’s studies and later his doctoral degree.

Soon Gwei had him meeting with the secretaries of government—energy, agriculture, and education—instructing the young man to call the offices of these officials and make confidential appointments. Once inside, Esunge introduced himself as a student of the Bible, with a charge to pray for those in authority. These meetings became Esunge’s training ground and the start of lifelong connections within  the government.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Buea and began to consider the future. He naturally thought of becoming a pastor; the idea made sense until Sammy Chumbow, a beloved professor, challenged him to continue his mathematics education. He promised, “A day will come when platforms will be opened for you to advance the kingdom of God. Doors will open not because you are a minister, but because of your academic credentials.”

In 2000 Esunge moved to the United States for graduate school. One of his first visits was to see Dr. Gwei, who’d relocated to the U.S. to be near family but had continued to mentor Esunge despite the distance. It would be a brief reunion. Shortly after Esunge began his studies, Dr. Gwei returned to Cameroon, where he died in 2002. Gwei’s absence left a significant hole in Esunge’s life, and so he began to pray for a voice that could continue to strengthen him in his ministry.

Julius Esunge sharing the gospel before a civil marriage ceremony at Buea City Hall.

Then one evening while he was at a friend’s house, a preacher came on TV. “He was very articulate, but also Christocentric, Scripture-centered,” Esunge said. Through TV and audio cassettes, Dr. Charles Stanley became the spiritual mentor Esunge needed to keep him focused as he completed his master’s studies and later his doctoral degree.

Witness to a Nation

Voices of adoration fill every corner of the assembly room at Buea City Hall: “Praise the Lord!” the people sing, “Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice!” Dressed in their finest, over one hundred Cameroonians—with more entering every minute—join Esunge in song on this Friday morning. They have come to witness the civil wedding ceremony of 12 couples. Many of the people in attendance will not go to a church for their vows but are nonetheless grateful to receive a blessing as they begin their marriage.

“My name is Julius,” says Esunge into a handheld microphone. “Every couple tying the knot today has received a gift from In Touch Ministries—a Key with messages to strengthen your marriage. It is our gift to you, to say congratulations. You are entering an institution ordained by God.” After his message, men and women throughout the hall rise to confess Jesus as Lord. In time, nearly all are on their feet.

Esunge has an easy confidence borne from thousands of handshakes in private offices, in school corridors, and at church doors. When asked to give a rather ceremonial prayer before a political gathering, Esunge will preach-pray—“Lord, thank You for this wonderful day. We’re so grateful [because] without Jesus in our hearts, there’s no hope for us.” On one such occasion, he sat through two hours of speeches, pondering why God would have him there for such a long time. Then he remembered the 90 Messenger Lab Keys he had in his car. Leaning in to whisper to the man in charge of the ceremony, he told him he had gifts for everyone in attendance. “If I had a thousand on me, they would have been gone,” Esunge says. It was yet another great opportunity God used to scatter the seed of the gospel among the leaders of Cameroon.

Changes are coming to Cameroon not because of Esunge’s biblical knowledge or gracious manner, but because of his prayerful submission to God’s vision.

The fragrance of Christ is also carried far outside municipal buildings and seats of power, to the diverse communities that make up the country. People farm, set up shop in cramped spaces along the streets, and serve as domestics. Most are thin, but not all are healthy. Nearly everyone in Cameroon will have bouts of typhoid or malaria.

At the Buea Hope Center, a medical clinic operated by Esunge’s team, patients are treated for illnesses and inflammations, have checkups, or even deliver babies. In the waiting room, the teaching of Dr. Charles Stanley drifts from the speaker of a Messenger stashed atop a bookcase. It’s a soothing balm for the anxious moments. Then patients receive an In Touch devotional to bring home—good medicine to comfort their souls long after their bodies are treated.

Beyond a house the locals once called haunted, and up a bumpy elevation to a community field in the village of Woteke, Esunge stands on a makeshift stage. He preaches rapid-fire in Cameroonian Pidgin English to an undereducated crowd: “Shine, shine for Papa God!” he exhorts them. Heads of families are called forward to receive a Messenger, and with the device in hand, they pound the grass with their feet, and their bodies sway as a beacon of light streams from its edge.

Changes are coming to Cameroon not because of Esunge’s biblical knowledge or gracious manner, but because of his prayerful submission to God’s vision. His is one life given fully to the gospel, multiplied into countless others. This son of Cameroon has become a father, mentor, and friend to hundreds of students, peers, and national leaders.

On a bright, humid Saturday in May, in the last dry hours before the rainy season, Hope Academy is dedicated to the Lord. Rows of plastic seats line the freshly painted great hall; a host of dignitaries sit at the front, with a 30-voice choir in their regalia filling the seats along the right aisle. Then from the left comes Dr. Julius Esunge, his eyes bright as he stands at the lectern and takes in the crowd. “It is somewhat ironical that someone like me,” he begins, “who is least qualified to do something like this, would be entrusted with such a privilege.” But God is such a Father that He changes hearts and gives dreams to His children, empowering them to do greater things for the kingdom than can be imagined.

 

Photography by Ben Rollins

https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/in-focus/shine-shine

VIDEO 5 tweets that help you help others for Elimination of Violence Against Women

Orange The World For The International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women

5 tweets that help you help others on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

By GodInterest

“Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. Let us not forget that the gender inequalities that fuel rape culture are essentially a question of power imbalances.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The United Nations General Assembly has designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Resolution 54/134). The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence; furthermore, one of the aims of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden. For 2014, the official Theme framed by the UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women, is Orange your Neighbourhood. For 2018, the official theme is “Orange the World:#HearMeToo” .

This year’s theme is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape.” For the next two years, a campaign from the U.N. Secretary General will focus specifically on rape in its efforts to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.

According to U.N. figures, one in three women and girls experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lives. The U.N. estimates that approximately 15 million adolescent girls have experienced forced sex during their lifetimes. Based on its data from 30 countries, only 1 percent of these girls ever looked for professional help.

“Too many of us fail to name or challenge the rape culture that surrounds us,” U.N. Women said in an statement about this year’s theme.

U.N. Women encourages people to get directly involved in preventing sexual violence by learning about rape culture, listening to survivors, and talking about consent.

For this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, here are some tweets that show you how to do exactly that.

1. Stand up

2. Know the definition of consent as there is no excuse for sexual violence

3. Support survivors

4. To feel safe, women and girls have to look at everyday objects differently. Understand the burden women carry to avoid violence

5. Stop victim-blaming and body-shaming. What women choose to wear or not wear is not consent for sexual harassment, violence, bullying, body-shaming or victim-blaming.

Original here


Hungarian Govt: Christians, Christian Culture Attacked Across Europe, World

christians

 

JACK MONTGOMERY

 

The Hungarian government has warned that Christians and Christianity are increasingly being driven out of public life in Europe, as well as being persecuted around the world more viciously than any other religious minority.

“Some years ago, at the Brussels City Hall, it was decided not to set a Christmas tree, and in Santa Monica, California, a ban on nativity screening was made on the grounds of world neutrality,” said Tristan Azbej, the Hungarian state secretary with particular responsibility for the Hungary Helps programme which extends aid to Christian minorities globally, in comments reported by the Hungarian press.

“Meanwhile, in Germany, Christian songbooks have been burned, and in France, churches have been attacked every year, and Christian symbols and religious objects have been damaged, such as the crucifixion,” he added.

“Christianity is the most persecuted religion, with about a quarter of a billion Christians worldwide being persecuted or discriminated against, and thousands of people were killed last year because of their Christian beliefs,” the minister continued.

“The Hungarian government, on the other hand, is committed to the protection of Christian culture and strengthens it in the world by, inter alia, combating migration. They hope that over time, Europe will realize the importance of this, ” he said.

The Hungary Helps programme is not, as Azbej indicates, primarily concerned with helping Christian minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere to migrate to the West — a process which has seen the Christian populations of countries like Syria and Iraq collapse at an astonishing rate — but to help them where they are, in order to preserve their ancient communities and way of life for posterity.

Hungary Helps has “supported so far Christian communities by more than 35 million USD, provided scholarships, [and] helped 70,000 refugees to return to their ancestral homes”, according to Katalin Bogyay, Hungary’s ambassador to the United Nations.

https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/12/24/hungarian-govt-christians-christian-culture-attacked-across-europe-world/